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The Bio: Presenting Your Life-Story at a Paralegal Interview

published February 22, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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( 161 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
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People often misunderstand the purpose of the bio. Skeptics say, "If it is scripted, it won't sound real." This is a problem of presentation, not memorization. It is true that people tend to sound robotic when they memorize something. I am not suggesting that you memorize your bio verbatim. However, it is a good idea to have a general outline in mind.
The Bio: Presenting Your Life-Story at a Paralegal Interview

A young person's bio might sound something like this:

I was a "Poli-Sci" major in college where I developed my initial interest hi the law. I started reading about the paralegal profession and felt that my interests and skills would be a good fit. I handled two secretarial/clerical jobs right out of college and learned how to get work out the door and meet deadlines. I used Lotus and WordPerfect in those jobs. I also put in some time working in restaurants, where I learned how to handle stressful situations and smooth over ruffled feathers. I think all of these previous experiences will help me be a real team member in a law firm with the skills to handle indexing, document preparation, and whatever needs to be done. My internship experience in a small general practice helped me get a real understanding of how a busy law office works. I am not afraid to work hard and put in long hours, if needed. I believe my recent paralegal schooling gives me the basic concepts I need to continue this educational process and make a real contribution to your firm.

The bio is your story with your background, education, experience, skills, and personal qualities. It is the answer to many questions, the most likely being, "Tell me about yourself." What lawyer goes to trial and leaves out the three key "smoking gun" documents that constitute the backbone of the case? None who wish to stay in practice! Now ask yourself: What paralegal applicant goes to an interview and leaves out the key valuable skills that will cause a compelling hiring decision to be made?

The bio serves another important function: If helps you know what you are not going to talk about as much as what you will. If you tend to be overly talkative when you get nervous, a strongly structured bio may help you curb your tongue. Paralegal applicants who let their "mouths run" often stray into disqualification territory.

By now the reasons to prepare a bio should be clear: It is a positive instrument in the hands of the interviewee. Its benefits include:
  1.  It helps remind you not to go into territory that you do not want to talk about.
  2.  It cuts down on nervousness and self-doubt.
  3.  It gives you an anchor to return to if things go blank.
  4.  It is a natural closer, if you did not get to discuss all aspects during your interview.
  5.  It keeps you focused on the key message of why you are qualified for the position.
  6.  It contains the answers to many "trick questions," global questions, overly general questions, and observations about you.

The elements of the bio

When you prepare your bio, you should think about what you will emphasize, deemphasize, just touch on, or paint with specific detail.

The personal notes that follow were prepared in anticipation of a key interview. Use the inherent principles to guide your own planning.
  1. I am not going to talk for five minutes about the "lost" part of my youth, because it does not sell any skills.
  2. I am going to spend 30 seconds talking about my editor job because that goes to detail orientation.
  3. I am going to talk very little about my eight years of counseling, because this is a litigation job with 100,000 documents.
  4. When I mention any job, I will come up with at least one skill to describe.
  5. Each skill I describe will be transferable to the area of law.
  6. I will not stray onto personal territory I might be tempted to cover, because I realize it does not pertain to the legal market.
  7. I will find a way to introduce some positive personal qualities without putting people off. The personal qualities will have to do with perceived value in the eyes of the law firm.

As you prepare your bio, you should hope for a positive reaction from yourself! Hopefully, you will be able to say, "You know, this sounds pretty darned good. I would hire me!" Believe your own bio! It should not be overblown, but it should be positive. The interview is not a time for understatement or subtlety. In the world of the interview, the self-effacing have little extra advantage.


Two purposes for the interview process

Once you are ready to present yourself, you must remember the two purposes of the interview process:

1. To find the person they are going to hire (fall in love with) (build a family feeling for) (generate strong fervency of interest). This is the qualification mechanism. There is an urge to support an emotional/objective decision with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm is the basis for inviting the new person into the fold. It is a very natural process that occurs in every interview. There is an urge to qualify and it has a snowball effect.

2. There is a mandate to eliminate all the people who interview but one. This is just arithmetic; if they interview five they will get rid of four. That is the overall message. Maybe one interviewer only recommends, or grades, or designates favorites, but the process is designed to disqualify everybody except one.

Therefore, every interviewer is under two mandates: fall in love with one and get rid of the rest. To counter these mandates, you must do what you can to avoid outright disqualification and build an enthusiastic, positive bond between you and the interviewer. Yes, interviews can be vexing experiences, but all the while you should be attempting to create a "fervency of interest" that has everything to do with the "blind date" (subtext) aspect of the interview. You must ascend from being a piece of paper to being a person, having a persona, being a friend.

Stop depending on your resume - tell your bio.

See the following articles for more information:

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published February 22, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 161 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.